For anyone who was starting to get tired of playing “Summertime Sadness” on repeat well beyond the appropriate season, fear not. Lana Del Rey has at last confirmed the release of a sophomore album, to be titled Ultra-Violence (an A Clockwork Orange term). What that might indicate for the musical content is, at this point, arbitrary. The twenty-seven minute film, Tropico, is presumably a precursor to some of the motifs we can expect on the forthcoming record—though it’s also something of a cap on the era of Born to Die and Paradise. Del Rey herself said as much to her legion of acolytes at the Arclight premiere (it only makes sense that the piece would debut in Los Angeles). Promotional poster for Tropico

And, speaking of Los Angeles, it plays heavily into the backdrop of Tropico, serving as a metaphor for both heaven and hell. Expounding on the themes presented in “Body Electric,” “Gods and Monsters” and “Bel Air” (all of which appeared on Born to Die—The Paradise Edition), the short film is divided into four segments: Garden of Eden, Strip Club, Robbery and Farewell. Del Rey’s predilection for the cinematic has always been apparent in her videos, particularly “Ride,” in which she plays a runaway with a fondness for old men/bikers and turning the occasional trick. With Tropico, Del Rey takes her gift for the dramatic and theatrical to new heights in probing some of the most time-honored subject matters in literature and film: Sin and redemption.

Mother Mary

Opening in the Garden of Eden—or at least LDR’s version of it—we are introduced to all the characters mentioned in “Body Electric”: Elvis, Marilyn and Jesus (with John Wayne thrown in for good measure). This amalgam of pop culture icons is ironically placed in the context of an Eden: For this is all we know of an Eden in the twenty-first century: Celebrity. Still, LDR can’t resist taking a bite of the forbidden fruit, prompting her lover (played by Shaun Ross—yeah, he’s a black albino) to follow her lead. It really disappoints both Marilyn and Elvis.

http://youtu.be/Jg4-WxXvde4

As she falls from grace and into the life of a stripper, her male counterpart ends up as a thief. They both serve as a foil to one another’s depravity, even though Shaun assures, “You know it’s not going to be like this forever, right?” Lana, in her new chola/stripper persona nods and says, “I know.” It is then that the film transitions to a bachelor party (even though there’s probably no engagement to speak of) in which Lana is one of the strippers. Shaun and his band of thieves storm the house to rob every last one of the rich men there.

Another promo for Tropico

Anthony Mandler, who Del Rey previously entrusted to direct “Ride,” then cuts to a visually sweeping scene of Downtown L.A, from a vista point overlooking where Shaun, Lana and their cohorts shoot guns and revel in their debauched accomplishment. Del Rey showcases her knowledgeable side as she recites the lines from Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” for the narration over this segment of the film.

http://youtu.be/VEmC7fSSXgQ

Ultimately, as with most inherently good people who briefly give in to their bad side (you know, like Patty Hearst), Shaun and Lana veer back toward a more redemptive path. This leads to the conclusion of the film, in which “Bel Air” plays as the final song. For those who can’t see the value in or point of Tropico, I ask: When was the last time a singer provoked your thought this much? And no, Miley Cyrus does not count.